Puffy eyes and the changing face of migraine
After a relatively good week, I woke up with a migraine today*. My head felt totally stuffed up and snotty, and I had the perhaps naive hope that simply blowing my nose to clear it out would help immensely. While that did help with the stuffy feeling in my head, the blowing sensation was a little rough on my migraine brain—I should have been a little more gentle.
On my way from bed to the restroom, I noticed that my vision was a little blurrier than it usually is in the morning. True that I didn’t have my glasses on yet (I have a pretty weak prescription), but it was something else—almost as if my vision was being obstructed. When I looked in the mirror, I could understand why my eyesight was wonky: my upper and lower eyelids were puffy as all get-out. Underneath my left eye it looked like someone had actually stored something small, like a capsule of liquid or a sugar packet (ew, I’m grossing myself out here). My eyes were so swollen I looked almost like someone else from the nose on up.
Many migraine articles mention “puffy eyelid” as a symptom of a migraine attack, but in the back of my head I had always imagined that meant the upper eyelid. And while my upper eyelids are very occasionally swollen to a noticeable degree when I have a migraine (especially a bad one), I had figured this wasn’t a regular symptom of mine. But that was because I’ve been so focused on the upper eyelid and not the lower eyelid, the area directly beneath the eye.
When I realized my error a couple of months ago, I started doing a better job of looking at my entire face during a migraine attack. During rough migraines—and, in particular, ones that wake me from sleep—I had a puffy lower lid a full third of the time. And in about half of those instances, my upper lid was swollen as well, giving me little piggy eyes.
In addition to this making me think about puffy eyelids, this experience has opened my eyes (cheesy pun intended) to the fact that there are many parts of migraine that didn’t used to be typical for me, so I just plowed ahead putting things into categories. For instance, I thought of myself as someone who almost always had an aura, who never had puffy eyes, whose migraines were nearly exclusively on one side of my head. But a closer inspection has made me realize that The Migraine Girl symptoms of even a few years ago no longer match the typical migraine symptoms of The Migraine Girl in 2015. Now I keep better track of if and when I have an aura, notice that my eyes are puffy a lot more than I had previously thought, and have had lots of migraine headaches that occur all over my head (not just on one side).
How about you others out there who’ve been dealing with migraine for a long time? Have you noticed symptoms altering as you age? What symptoms and signs have emerged or disappeared over the years?
*this was written in early March 2015